BURBANK, CA.—The Walt Disney Company said it now has 196.4 million subscribers for its streaming services, up from 179 million in the previous quarter. For Disney+, it reported an increase of 11.8 million subscribers (no doubt, partly driven by large interest in Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” docuseries on the Beatles, which brought in 209,000 subscriptions alone, according to Insider). Wall St. had predicted an increase of 7 million.
“We’ve had a very strong start to the fiscal year, with a significant rise in earnings per share, record revenue and operating income at our domestic parks and resorts, the launch of a new franchise with Encanto, and a significant increase in total subscriptions across our streaming portfolio to 196.4 million, including 11.8 million Disney+ subscribers added in the first quarter,” said Bob Chapek, Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “This marks the final year of The Walt Disney Company’s first century, and performance like this coupled with our unmatched collection of assets and platforms, creative capabilities, and unique place in the culture give me great confidence we will continue to define entertainment for the next 100 years.”
Disney+ started the year with approximately 129.8 million subscribers, up from 94.8 million in Q1 2021 and 118.1 million in the previous quarter. For the U.S. and Canada, Disney+ logged 42.9 million subscribers, compared to 36.3 million a year ago. ESPN Plus subscriptions numbered 21.3 million, compared to 12.1 million in Q1 2021 and 17 million in the last quarter.
Hulu subscriptions were at 45.3 million compared to 39.4 million in Q1 2021 and 43.8 million in Q4 2021. VOD-only Hulu subscribers increased from 39.7 million in the last quarter to 40.9 million, compared to 35.4 million a year ago. Hulu Plus Live TV subscriptions stood at 4.3 million, up from 4 million in Q1 2021 and 4 million last quarter.
Disney said higher production, programming, marketing and “technology” costs led to a $593 million loss in its DTC business, compared to a $466 million loss a year ago, but a revenue increase of 34% to $4.7 billion for the quarter helped offset those costs. ESPN Plus also had to deal with higher programming costs, but its revenues were partly offset by subscriber growth and revenues from UFC pay-per-view events.
Revenue from Disney’s linear networks was flat at $7.7 billion with operating income dropping 13% to $1.5 billion. Revenue was flat at $7.7 billion. Operating income at the domestic linear channels decreased 21% to $888 million but revenue grew 1% to $6.2 billion. Disney said its ABC ad revenue was comparable to last year, but that the lack of political ads in 2021 impacted any potential growth.
Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (www.tvtech.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.
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